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CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Date Signed: 12/17/2008
ALMARS Number: 052/08

R 161950Z Dec 08
UNCLASSIFIED//
ALMAR 052/08
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC CMC//
SUBJ/CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS//
REF/A/DESC:DOC/CMC WASHINGTON DC/05MAY2003//
AMPN/REF A IS MCO P5060.20, MARINE CORPS DRILL AND CEREMONIES MANUAL.
//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1.  THIS ALMAR REINFORCES THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS AND AMPLIFIES THE PROVISIONS OF THE REFERENCE
FOR RENDERING SALUTES AND HONORS TO THE NATIONAL FLAG; THE PROPER
CONDUCT OF THE MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY CAKE CUTTING CEREMONY; AND THE
PLAYING OF THE MARINES' HYMN.
2.  CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS PROVIDE A LINK TO THE PAST; THEY BOND
MARINES WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE WITH MARINES WHO WILL CARRY THE TORCH
THROUGH THE FUTURE.  ANY LOSS OF TRADITION OR IMPROPER OBSERVATION
OF CUSTOM BLURS OUR IDENTITY AND WEAKENS US AS AN INSTITUTION.
THROUGH THE FAITHFUL ADHERENCE BY COMMANDERS AND EACH INDIVIDUAL
MARINE, WE PRESERVE OUR IDENTITY AND REPUTATION AS A UNIQUE AND
ELITE FIGHTING ORGANIZATION. 
3.  SALUTING.  A RECENT CHANGE TO THE LAW HAS AUTHORIZED ACTIVE DUTY
AND RETIRED SERVICEMEMBERS TO SALUTE THE NATIONAL COLORS, WHETHER
COVERED OR UNCOVERED, INDOORS OR OUT.  BY CUSTOM AND TRADITION,
MARINES DO NOT RENDER THE HAND SALUTE WHEN OUT OF UNIFORM OR WHEN
UNCOVERED.  LET THERE BE NO CONFUSION; THAT HAS NOT CHANGED.  DURING
THE PLAYING OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, OR THE RAISING, LOWERING, OR
PASSING OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, MARINES WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW NAVAL
TRADITIONS AND THE POLICY / PROCEDURES CONTAINED IN REFERENCE (A).
SPECIFICALLY, MARINES NOT IN UNIFORM WILL FACE THE FLAG, STAND AT
ATTENTION, AND PLACE THE RIGHT HAND OVER THE HEART.  IF COVERED,
MARINES NOT IN UNIFORM WILL REMOVE THEIR HEADGEAR WITH THE RIGHT
HAND AND PLACE THEIR RIGHT HAND OVER THEIR HEART.  WHEN THE FLAG IS
NOT PRESENT, MARINES WILL ACT IN THE SAME MANNER WHILE FACING IN THE
DIRECTION OF THE MUSIC.  IN CASES SUCH AS INDOOR CEREMONIES, WHEN
MARINES ARE IN UNIFORM AND UNCOVERED, THEY WILL FACE THE FLAG, OR
THE DIRECTION OF THE MUSIC WHEN THE FLAG IS NOT PRESENT, AND STAND
AT ATTENTION.
4.  THE MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY CAKE CUTTING CEREMONY.  THE MARINE
CORPS BIRTHDAY CAKE CUTTING CEREMONY IS ONE OF OUR TIME-HONORED
TRADITIONS IN GARRISON, IN THE FIELD, AND IN COMBAT.  ONE OF THE
MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE CEREMONY IS THE TRADITIONAL
RECOGNITION OF THE OLDEST AND YOUNGEST MARINES PRESENT.  TO CLARIFY
THE LANGUAGE IN REFERENCE (A), THE COMMANDER CUTS THE CAKE AND HANDS
THE FIRST PIECE TO THE GUEST OF HONOR.  THEN THE COMMANDER HANDS THE
SECOND PIECE OF CAKE TO THE OLDEST MARINE PRESENT AS A SIGN OF HONOR
AND RESPECT TO EXPERIENCE AND SENIORITY.  AFTER TAKING A BITE, THE
OLDEST MARINE PASSES THE SECOND PIECE OF CAKE, AND A CLEAN FORK,
DIRECTLY TO THE YOUNGEST MARINE PRESENT; THIS ACTION SYMBOLIZES THE
PASSING OF WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, AND EXPERIENCE, AS WELL AS TRUST AND
CONFIDENCE IN THOSE WHO WILL CONTINUE TO CARRY ON OUR MARINE CORPS
TRADITIONS.
5.  PLAYING OF THE MARINES' HYMN.  THE MARINES' HYMN IS THE OFFICIAL
HYMN OF THE MARINE CORPS.  IT IS THE SONG OF PRAISE TO OUR
INSTITUTION AND THE LYRICS ARE A DIRECT TRIBUTE TO OUR WARFIGHTING
CULTURE.  BY CUSTOM AND TRADITION, THE MARINES' HYMN IS THE LAST
SONG PLAYED AT CEREMONIES AND GATHERINGS OF MARINES.  ALTHOUGH THE
REFERENCE ALLOWS FOR THE PLAYING OF SPECIAL MUSIC REQUESTS BEFORE
THE MARINES' HYMN, SUCH AS "ANCHOR'S AWEIGH," THIS IS BY EXCEPTION
AND AT THE DISCRETION OF THE LOCAL COMMANDER.
6.  ONE OF OUR HALLMARKS AS MARINES IS THAT WE ARE AS GOOD ON PARADE
AS WE ARE IN THE ATTACK.  OUR SHARP APPEARANCE - IN AND OUT OF
UNIFORM - AND OUR SUCCESS IN BATTLE ARE TWO IMPORTANT PARTS OF OUR
IDENTITY.  WE TAKE PRIDE IN OUR TRADITIONS, AND THEIR UNIFORM
APPLICATION, WHEREVER MARINES ARE ASSIGNED.
7.  SEMPER FIDELIS, JAMES T. CONWAY, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS,
COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS.//